Toxic red sludge reaches Danube

Hungary’s toxic sludge spill, which has killed four people, has reached the Danube River, threatening to contaminate the waterway’s ecosystem.

Water alkalinity, a measure of river contamination, was reportedly already above normal in the major waterway.

Samples taken at the confluence of the Raab River and the Danube showed “alkalinity slightly above normal, around 8.96 per cent to 9.07 per cent” against a normal tally of 8 per cent, a water authority official said.

A wave of toxic mud was unleashed on Monday from the reservoir of an aluminium plant at Ajka, 160 kilometres west of Budapest.

The red mud travelled down the Raab River and reached the Danube at Gyor.

The industrial accident has been described as an ecological disaster and is now threatening the entire ecosystem of the Danube, Europe’s second longest river.

The Danube is a critical resource for at least 10 countries.

It provides drinking water for about 10 million people, vital transport links and fishing and tourism revenue.